Christmas may be over, but for racing fans the fun has only just started. The King George VI Chase tussle between Cue Card and Thistlecrack is the headline act on a mouth-watering day of action, though there are fascinating clashes taking place at various tracks. Today's Follow The Money focuses on Kempton and Leopardstown.
For our back selection we look at the 13:15 at Leopardstown, a Grade 2 juvenile hurdle which features Triumph Hurdle favourite Landofhopeandglory and his recent Fairyhouse victim Bapaume. Both are holding up well in the betting, but the exchanges are speaking in favour of the Gordon Elliot-trained Mega Act, who was actually a two-and-a-quarter length third in the Fairyhouse race mentioned above. Having been as big as 4.77/2, he is now trading at 3.9, and there are reasons for believing he can bridge the gap. A raw type who showed nothing at two, he went on to win a flat maiden by 14 lengths in May of this year on soft for the Andy Oliver yard (becoming a noted source for future hurdling talent). He has taken his time to get his act together over obstacles, but will surely have learnt plenty from his most recent race, where he raced over exuberantly before still running on strongly. He needs to improve to win today, but market forces are indicating that it's entirely possible.
We now head to Kempton for the Kauto Star Novices' Chase at 14:05, where an each-way bet on Minella Daddy is recommended. This six-year-old gelding has been progressing so quickly in good handicaps that he looks well worth his place in the line-up. Initially allocated a mark of 130 on the back of a win in a Beginners' Chase at Ffos Las, Minella Daddy made a mockery of that rating when bolting up at Ascot in October, belying his inexperience to win as he liked. He was back at the same venue just nine days ago, when backed into favouritism for a very valuable handicap chase. Although ultimately finding one too good, the handicapper was sufficiently impressed to move his mark north again, this time to 145. That rating puts him right in the mix here, and with conditions up his street and his wellbeing assured, the market move from 10.519/2 into 9.08/1 looks worth following.
Finally, our lay selection comes in the Christmas Hurdle at 14:40. Kempton's hurdling feature has been something of a bogey race for The New One, however punters seem to think he can make it third time lucky. This market strength has seen early favourite Yanworth drift from 2.35/4 to a current 2.747/4. Although only beaten once in six hurdles starts, he was somewhat laboured in getting the better of Lil Rockerfeller on his seasonal debut at Ascot, ultimately gaining a three-quarter-length verdict in receipt of four pounds. The runner up has boosted the form since, but over a marathon trip, and Yanworth himself had been under consideration for a World Hurdle campaign until recently. It must be a huge question mark whether or not he has the toe to go with the recognised speedsters today, and the market indicates he might struggle.
Back Mega Act @ 3.9 in the 13:15 at Leopardstown
Back Minella Daddy ew @ 9.08/1 in the 14:05 at Kempton
Lay Yanworth @ 2.747/4 in the 14:40 at Kempton